brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

7Jun/051

Sue’s Betta

As a brief test of the macro capabilities of my video camera, here's a brief clip of Sue's new Betta splendens (Windows Media Video, sorry lads). It may look a bit washed out because I boosted the brightness (I filmed it in existing light, and it was a bit dark).

Filed under: General, My Projects 1 Comment
7Jun/051

Stopped Clock Right Once in a Day…

But sadly isn't right for the second time.

Pundit Dvorak (just how does one get to be a pundit anyway) muses that the announcement that Apple will shift to Intel chips is somehow more harmful for Linux than for Microsoft. His reasoning?

Let's face it, Linux is free, useful and powerful. That alone says that it should have made a bigger impact on the desktop market than it has. There are obviously some problems. You find this same lack of acceptance with Solaris and other pure Unix operating systems too. This includes the BSD-Unix used in the core of the Mac OS. That is until it was turned into OS-X by Apple. Apple simply added modern user interface concepts.

Sigh.

First of all, let's remember that Apple owes a great deal to the existance of open source software. It is clear that Apple could have hired a development team and came up with their own modern operating system to compete with Microsoft, but they didn't have to. Apple instead chose a robust, mature product to serve as the basis for their OS X platform, which allowed them to concentrate on what they do best: design and user interface. What we see here is a nice symbiosis between open source and the commercial world.

Secondly, Linux has made an impact on the server market, on the embedded market and even the desktop market. To argue otherwise is just silly. Could the Linux desktop be better? Of course. But has he tried out Slax or Ubuntu. Progress is being made, and for many users Linux provides an excellent inexpensive option to paying $180 for Windows XP.

Dvorak continues to muse:

Linux has other problems too. It's likely that developer interest will wane when Apple is fully engaged on the X86 platform.

It is clear from this statement that John C. just doesn't understand in the least why people choose to support Linux with their time and effort.

His rationale?

While Apple ran on the PowerPC chip the amount of developer effort in the Open Source camps was nil. But now that Apple is using the same processor as everyone else, targeting the Macs will now be an easy decision to make. This will be at the expense of Linux.

Perhaps John C. should learn about Fink for Mac OSX. It lists 5247 packages which are available for Mac OS X. Where did they come from? Why, mostly from authors of free software. It is entirely likely that this trend will continue, since it is usually reasonably simple to write applications which are portable to both environments.

If I were a betting man, I'd say this move is very good for Apple, and it will come at the expense of Microsoft. With Longhorn still over a year away (if current schedules hold) and delivering much more modestly than initially proclaimed, Microsoft has left itself open for competition in the world of consumer computing. With the ability to run on hardware of equal capabilities, people will be able to make nearly direct comparisons between machines which run Microsoft operating systems and those that run Apple, and I suspect they are going to find very marginal performance from the engineers at Redmond. Apple is now completely dominating the MP3 market, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them make great strides in the quest for the consumer desktop/laptop.

Time will tell.

But I bet in 10 years, I'll still have a Linux box.

Filed under: Rants and Raves 1 Comment
7Jun/050

Let’s all drink the Intellectual Property Koolaid…

The Times Online reports that Britain is considering doubling the length of copyrights on pop classics, in an attempt to march in step with American laws. Currently Britain's copyright protection lasts 50 years, while in the U.S. copyrights go for 90.

Their justification?

James Purnell, the new minister for creative industries, believes the change will allow record companies to generate extra revenue to look for new talent and nurture it. Purnell, who will outline his plans in a speech next week, said: "The music industry is a risky business and finding talent and artists is expensive. There is a view that long-term earners are needed so that the record companies can plough money back into unearthing new talent."

Frankly, I dispute this idea. It isn't expensive to unearth raw talent: it's expensive and time consuming to become talented. Finding talented people is actually pretty simple. What's expensive is the ridiculous process that the music industry goes through to market and promote their music.

You see, the problem isn't that a couple of pop classics will be protected. It's that all works will be. You are robbing the public of their property by keeping it from entering the public domain, with absolutely no reasonable recompense.

Let their dying business model die. Let new ones, based upon building on our shared cultural heritage begin.

7Jun/050

Hollywood foots bill for LAPD spy cams

Xeni Jardin filed a story for Wired on the installation of spy cams funded by the MPAA. These cameras monitor a couple of alleys and feed directly to the LAPD's Central Area station. Are these cameras there do detect assaults? Robberies? Drug trafficking?

Nope, illegal bootleg DVD sales.

Read the article. Does anyone think that the movie industry is losing substantial money to these poor quality bootlegs?